Lyric Theatre Presents Superior Performance with “The Sound of Music”
“The Sound of Music” always creates the view of Julie Andrews in her breakout movie role and the association has always been indelible. While the notability of her movie performance will never fade there is now a brand-new vibrant association. Live performance is always more emotionally evocative, but the skill, vocals and talent must be equal or better to replace such an icon in the mind of an audience member. Anette Barrios-Torres does that in her role of Maria in Lyric’s fantastic production. She is quite wonderful. Of course, she has a little help! From fellow cast members who all perform with outstanding skill, talent and dedication creating an ensemble fellowship. Director W. Jerome Stevenson, one of Oklahoma City’s most talented performers and innovative directors turns out a brilliant production with “The Sound of Music” as he always does. David Andrews Rogers, Music Director certainly added a significant contribution to her performance specifically as well as the general production. The choreography by Hui Cha Poos is excellent as well, making the moves look simple and natural, yet presenting grace in the undeniable skill of the performers. All in all, this production is a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. And of course a very great tribute to the talent and performances in music and incredible journey and lives of the Von Trapp Family as told in ‘The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp.
Lyric Theatr mmonly double casts the children in a show, so as not to ‘over-rehearse’ and monopolize them over the long rehearsal period. The two casts in “The Sound of Music” are the Do-Re-Mi cast and the Edelweiss cast. These children are equally talented, and it so happens that the Do-Re-Mi cast shines opening night, followed the next night by Edelweiss. The role of Liesl, the oldest Von Trapp daughter is played by Caroline Morath superbly, and the remaining six children are double cast. Morath has impeccable chemistry in her performance with the entire Do-Re-Mi cast consisting of Tate Langston as Fredrich, Dylan Howard as Louisa, Nicholas Scharf as Kurt, Kaylie Fitzpatrick as Brigitta, Cassie Magrath as Marta and Greer Caudle as Gretl. These kids are the stars of the future. But it is also true that the Edelweiss cast of Austin Rindler, Ainsley Manners, Westley Ferguson, Annabeth Cain, Elaina Dobey, and Lilly Sunshine are known to be equally impressive.
Scott Guthrie leads the Von Trapp Family Singers as Captain Georg Von Trapp, the widowed father who comes out of his grief through the kindness of Maria and stands strong for his belief and loyalty to Austria, unwilling to knuckle under to the Nazi invaders. Guthrie gives the character vigor along with maturity in his characterization and transition restoring his original attitude as a loving father believably. Courtney Crouse is incredible in her tenderness and vocals as the Mother Abbess while Anna Ryan as the Mistress of Novices and Ashley Mandanas as the Mistress of Postulants are outstanding performers. Kara Simpson as Sister Sophia is also beautifully performed. On the home front, Jason Bias as Franz the somewhat biased butler and Jessica Tate as Frau Schmidt, First Officer or housekeeper in the Von Trapp household perform with realism and skill.
Captain Von Trapp has a great friend, Max Detwiler played by Joseph Campbell. He is close enough to be known by the children as Uncle Max and he is sympathetic to Von Trapp’s determination in refusing to bow down to the Nazi’s. Yet, for himself, he is more than willing to raise his arm shouting Heil! until it blows over. He is supportive of his friend’s decision to marry the beautiful Elsa Schraeder who is also willing to compromise and even use the Nazi regime to position herself well professionally and personally. It is easy to see how her beauty entrances but fades compared to the glow of Maria Rainer’s spirit. Lexi Windsor is a Lyric favorite and her performance as Elsa is compelling and gracious.
Young Liesl is in love with Rolf Gruber, a young man who must also compromise and becomes a soldier searching for the missing Von Trapp’s as they try to escape the Nazi’s. He shows his true colors as he finds them and while looking directly into the eyes of his beloved Liesl, shouts out to his Nazi superiors that they are not there! The chemistry between Jayson Gorton as Rolf and Morath’s Liesl is brief but profound.
Julianne Reynolds is excellent as Ursula. The Zellers are Samuel L. Simons and Barbara DeMaio whose characters are willing to cooperate with the Nazis, and the Elberfeld’s are Stephen Hilton and Delanie Brewer who are not willing to cooperate and both couples are played brilliantly.
The Nun Choir is an incredible choir including the wonderful voices of Barbara DeMaio, DeLanie Brewer, Elizabeth Dragoo and 60 other exquisitely moving voices make up the rest of the incredible cast of 100 performers. Stevenson’s expert handling of the simple numbers in such a large cast is comfortable rather than crowded, utilizing the space with intelligence. There are performers who are not mentioned, but they should be recognized for their significant contribution whether they are minor characters or understudies, all should be lauded for their talent and contribution.
The gorgeous set is designed by Adam Koch, provided by Music Theatre Wichita and the amazing costumes are the hard work of Jeffrey Meek. The lighting is from Helena Kuukka and the sound is from Corey Ray. Courtney Strong is Properties, and Joanne Middleton-Weaver is hair designer. The contributions of Stage Manager are often overlooked and Laurena Sherrill lends great competence to a sometimes-thankless task with accuracy and sanity.
“The Sound of Music” is being presented at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City at 201 N. Walker Avenue through Sunday, July 2, 2023. Performance times are 7:30 pm during the weekdays and 8:00 pm Friday and Saturday evening. The Sunday matinee is 2:00 pm. Come early to find a good parking place and have a great dinner at one of Oklahoma City’s premier downtown restaurants. For tickets and information contact Lyric Theatre www.LyricTheatreOKC.com (405) 524-9312 or the Civic Center Box Office at www.OKCCivicCenter.com only. “The Sound of Music” is a classic and so well known that sometimes it doesn’t seem important to see it again. The vision and elegance of this production is worthy and definitely entertaining!